Monday, 2 March 2020
You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 2 Peter 3:17
Peter has been careful to show that what Paul writes is on the same level as that of all other Scripture, but that there are people who would take Paul’s writings and twist them. He said that they would do this just as they would with the rest of the Scriptures.
Because there are such people out there, Peter now warns them. In this, he says, “You therefore, beloved.” He had just called them beloved in verse 14. He then called Paul the same in verse 15. He now returns to this same word one last time in the epistle. He is using this term of endearment to ensure that they would make the connection between their state as believers and their need to apply their state to right conduct and holy living.
Understanding this, he then says, “since you know this beforehand.” In particular, he is speaking of those who would twist Scripture, including Paul’s letters, for their own perverse agenda. They now know this and are to be on guard against it, “lest you also fall from your own steadfastness.”
In other words, by following false teachers, and by listening to their own twisting of Scripture, these who are beloved in the Lord would be led off of the sure and sound course which they had begun on. The thought is similar to what he said earlier in the epistle –
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:10, 11
In his words, Peter does not state, nor does he imply, that in following these people they could lose their salvation. It is simply a statement of fact that if a person isn’t careful to watch his doctrine, he can easily get swept up in the false teachings of others. In this, they will be brought back into bondage – exactly as Paul notes of those who are led astray by false teachers.
The words of Peter here are nothing short of an exhortation to know the word of God. If one does not know the word, then that person cannot tell when the word is being twisted. Only by knowing and constantly remembering the word can a person avoid this pitfall, and thus “being led away with the error of the wicked.”
Here, the word “wicked” should be “lawless.” It is a word used in ancient Greek to signify that which is contrary to a statute. Without the law, a person is lawless. But equally so, when one twists the law, understanding the way to be obedient to that law is confused. As the word is the believer’s way of understanding the right and proper path to follow what God expects, we cannot be obedient to those expectations if our understanding of His word is either lacking or has been twisted. It is a solemn warning that we must know and carefully apply the word of God to our lives.
Life application: The context of Peter’s words here comes from verses 14-16 directly, and 11-13 as a basis for verse 14. Here is a paraphrased breakdown of what Peter is indicating –
We should look forward to the coming Day of God where the heavens and earth will be destroyed and replaced with a new heavens and earth where righteousness dwells.
Until that day, be found by the Lord in peace; spot-free and blameless.
Consider the longsuffering of the Lord which is described so pertinently by Paul in his letters.
Paul’s letters contain the wisdom given him by the Lord.
What Paul says is often hard to understand.
And, his words are manipulated by unstable people to their own destruction.
Because these things have been revealed to us, Peter says that we should therefore beware so that we don’t fall from our own determined outlook in our faith and practice. We should remain steadfast, or we are just as susceptible to being led away with the error of the wicked (those mentioned as “unstable” and who manipulate what Scripture says.) In other words: read and know your Bible!
By Peter stating that Paul’s letters are on the same level as all other Scripture, it implies is that what Paul writes should also be taken in that same light as well. How can one sit in church, or listen to someone on TV, or the radio, and trust what they say blindly? Rather, we need to have at least enough familiarity with our Bible to know when we’re being led down the primrose path.
Be wise, be discerning, and be prepared. Know your Bible.
Lord Jesus, each of us is accountable for our doctrine. Therefore, provide us with the sense to search out Your word now so that we are not led astray by the unstable and wicked. Rather, may we be prepared and know when right doctrine is being proclaimed or when false teachings are being presented to us. To Your honor we pray this. Amen.